After some rumors about the Buffalo Bills trying to move up in the draft to guarantee one of their preferred targets, General Manager Brandon Beane waited patiently and it paid off. With the ninth overall pick, the team secured the services of arguably a top-3 prospect in Houston’s defensive tackle, Ed Oliver.
“Ed Oliver fits Buffalo and how we do things here. Being able to select him at nine felt pretty good for us.” GM Brandon Beane
The former Cougar was viewed as a potential first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft before the start of the 2018 NCAA season thanks to his two stellar previous years. Starting all 12 games as a true freshman in 2016, Oliver dominated his competition, recording 65 tackles (22.5 for loss) and five sacks, and was a first-team All-American. He also became the first freshman to win the Bill Willis award, given to the college’s top defensive lineman.
In 2017, Oliver continued his dominance and again was named a first-team All-American and won the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s top interior defensive lineman. He again started all 12 games and amassed 73 tackles (17.5 for loss) and 5.5 sacks.
As a junior last season, the 6-foot-2, 287-pound player struggled with a knee injury, which sidelined him for four games.
He came back for the last game of the season but had a setback and didn’t play in Houston’s bowl game. In eight games, he recorded 54 tackles (14.5 for loss) and three sacks, earning his third consecutive All-American selection.
The Westfield, Texas native was the final Top-30 visit to One Bills Drive on Wednesday, April 17th, the final day for teams to bring in prospects. A visit that left an impression on the first-round pick. Oliver told Andy Young of Spectrum News “The facilities are amazing, just to put that out there. Their facilities are top-notch.”
Throughout the pre-draft process, GM Brandon Beane talked about drafting the best player available with his first pick. His work in the free agency filled a lot of glaring holes on the roster, making his life easier today. Oliver replaces the recently-retired Kyle Williams. This will not be an easy task, but if someone in this class has the skillset to do it, it’s Ed Oliver.
New #Bills DT Ed Oliver: "What Kyle Williams was able to accomplish over his career is extraordinary. If I can do half of what he did, I'll be satisfied." #GoBills #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/UaNfUIB2yN
— Nick Filipowski (@NickFilipowski) April 26, 2019
While he does lack ideal size for the position, the newest Buffalo Bill was an elite run defender in his three seasons in college, per Pro Football Focus. What is so fascinating about his statistics is that he actually played out of position. On most defensive snaps, Oliver aligned as their nose tackle in their odd front look.
— PFF BUF Bills (@PFF_Bills) April 26, 2019
That will change in Buffalo. He will play the under-tackle role, tasked with primarily being a penetrator upfield. In 2018, the Bills were fourth in pressure rate at 33.3%, generally without blitzing. Adding a talent like Oliver should help defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier continue to primarily rush four and allow the experienced secondary to feast.
It’s difficult to envision a better way for the Bills to start this year’s draft. They filled a huge need with the best player available, just as Beane stated.
Here is a short report on Oliver from Erik Turner:
- An official visitor to One Bills Drive
- #1 SPARQ defensive lineman
- Elite RAS score at 9.88
- 11.7% of his pass rush snaps were a pressure
- Career: 14 QB sacks, 11 QB hits, 48 QB Hurries, 14 batted passes, 117 stops
- As decorated a player as they come
- As feared a player as they come
- 5-star recruit and #1 DT out of Texas
- Unparalleled athleticism for a defensive lineman
- Explosive first step
- Bull-in-a-china-shop disruptive
- In your face mentality
- Elite processor of run blocking schemes
- Elite gap exchanger
- Uncanny ability to know where the RB entry point is
- Lateral burst to jump several gaps off the snap
- Stabs deep into gap, then darts into the opposite gap, testing the lateral agility of linemen
- Relentless motor
- Quickness and tenacity to split combo blocks
- Tight radius swim/arm over
- Reactive quickness
- Size and length do cause some limitations
- Pass rush plan and hand usage need more development
- Not a stack-and-shed interior defender yet
- Must use his entire body to leverage, which causes him to be swallowed up or dropped to the turf
- Plays ‘blind’ at times
- Susceptible to down or feed blocks
- Can be swallowed up by big, powerful linemen
- Slight delay in run-to-pass reads because he is so focused on getting leverage to stop the run